The Woman In The Window In Noir City D.C.
It happens every October. Noir City, D.C., the Washington D.C. Film Festival, has become an October classic at the A.F. I Silver theater in Silver Spring, Maryland. The Noir Festival runs for two weeks and shows over 20 classic noir films, many of which are introduced by scholars in the genre.
The noir festival this year includes several 1944 films celebrating their 75th anniversary. For example,, the festival began with the 1944 film "The Woman in the Window", a classic noir, considered by some to be the best noir film ever made. It is also a movie I hadn't seen before. Directed by Fritz Lang, the film features expressivist, highly angular nocturnal scenes in its black and white. I loved the glum desolate scenes of rainy nights in New York City and on seemingly untraveled country roads. There are lonely streets and lonely troubled people. The film captures the 1940s with its well-dressed, highly repressed men and women, and the men's social clubs with the ever-present smoking of big cigars.
The film stars Edward G. Robinson as Richard Wanley, a middle-aged, crusty college professor and Joan Bennett, as the feme fatale Alice Reed. Wanley is lonely after his wife and kids leave for the summer. He has a chance meeting with Alice Reed, who happens to be the mistress of a wealthy, violent man, and his happy, sedate life deteriorates immediately. Wanley kills Reed's lover in self-defense and he and Reed try to cover it up. Wanley is a close friend from his club of the District Attorney, and his secret act soon begins to go public. His partner in crime, Alice Reed, also is found out and blackmailed by a bodyguard of her rich lover, who receives a sharply sinister performance from Dan Dureya. The film builds inexorably until the final Hollywood twists.
"the Woman in the Window" is gripping film noir with its blend of story, character study acting and cinematography.The film explores sexual, romantic feelings at all stages of life, its repression, and its possible consequences. I was fortunate to see this film at Noir City, D.C. at a beautiful theater in the company of other lovers of film noir.